President Nicolas Sarkozy's recent visit to meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was supposed to be an opportunity to promote better relations between Ankara and Europe - but instead it has been overshadowed by an escalating political spat over the etiquette of chewing gum.

After Sarkozy was seen chewing gum as he got off his plane in Ankara on Saturday, the mayor of the city has revealed that he deliberately decided to chew gum himself when seeing the French President off yesterday, as a calculated retaliatory snub.

"He stopped for a moment, looked around and continued to chew. I personally was offended," Melih Gokcek said. He did not specify whether either politician chewed with his mouth open.

- INDEPENDENT